A bit of background: I’m a technician in a small biomedical research lab. Currently, I’m collecting and processing data to produce survival curves sort of like this. I’ve also got to do some medium-weight statistics on these data sets. Now, I’m in the midst of a battle with a half-broken Excel spreadsheet, grafted onto kludgy old VB script, that’s been handed down for years, with various modifications made along the way. I need to modify it yet again to make it work for my current round of experiments, but I’m sick and tired of Excel and want to find a proper tool for the job.
Now here’s my question. I know there are more than a few science and engineering types around here… What sort of tools do you use, and where are they most useful? How easy are they to use? I’ve had a bit of experience with Matlab, but I doubt I can convince my boss to spring for the several thousand dollar license. I’ve also heard that a lot of people head straight for Python.
Partly, I also want to learn something that I can carry with me to grad school, where I vaguely intend to get to the more quantitative side of biology. My programming experience at this point is rather meager.